• Tag Archives Vintage
  • Vintage Gothic Steampunk Vibes of Alice Underground

    From sunny Los Angeles comes another musical jewel from the murky borderlands of vintage and Steampunk, Alice Underground, and in best Steampunk fashion, they style themselves as a „time-travelling caravan“.

    Please feast your eyes and ears on Superman:

    Alice Underground – „Superman“ von cyberprvideo

    And this is how the band describes itself:

    Alice Underground is a time traveling caravan to an anachronistic era set in a locale that’s both familiar and fantastical. For the five members of the LA-based group, however, this has been a journey by happenstance. What was a one-off show now has the quintet chasing mythical characters and architecting a swamp cabaret aesthetic.

    Five years after its fateful first show, the LA-based quintet now issues a stunning debut, Cambria Sessions. An album bathed in the blue hues of broken dreams, noir romance, and Golden Age Of Hollywood opulence.

    Alice Underground whisks listeners and concertgoers away to an elegant underbelly teeming with deviant jazz, punk rock vigor, vaudevillian theatrics, and sensual emotionality. The group’s oeuvre varies between originals that feel like they were plucked from an American Songbook from a Tim Burton-themed time capsule, and jazz standards reimagined to showcase Alice Underground’s gift for conjuring longing and lasciviousness. The group counts as influences David Bowie, Ella Fitzgerald, Trent Reznor, and Billie Holiday. Fittingly, Alice Underground has been described as “gypsy jazz with a proto-punk edge.”

    The quintet’s dark seductiveness, gothic glamour, and mythological imagery of the character Alice as a conceptual muse have endeared it to fanatics of steampunk, fantasy, and cosplay. Live highlights for the band include appearing at Los Angeles County Museum Of Art’s New Year’s event Golden Stag, hosted at the famous Los Angeles Park Plaza Hotel, and performing at the closing ceremonies for the Anime Expo in Los Angeles. There the group played originals, and backed cult artist Yoko Takahashi, singer of the theme song for the popular animated Japanese television series Neon Genesis Evangelion.

    Alice Underground is Tash Cox vocals, bass, piano; Sasha Travis, vocals; Scott Landes, guitar, piano; Gordon Bash, standup bass, piano, guitar, vocals; and Steve Kefalas, drums, percussion. The band members boast eclectic and impressive resumes. Lead vocalist Tash Cox formerly sang with The Beta Machine, which included members of A Perfect Circle and Eagles of Death Metal. Tash has also sung in many operas, Neely Bruce’s, “Circular 14: The Apotheosis of Aristides” being her favorite. Scott Landes has played with Collide, Android Lust, I, Parasite, and ¡BASH!, among others. Steve Kefalas has also been a member of Android Lust, I, Parasite, and ¡BASH!. Gordon Bash is an active jazz and rock musician, that has appeared on America’s Got Talent playing with William Close. He heads up the punk/rockabilly band ¡BASH!, and is also the bassist for the popular ska band Save Ferris. Sasha Travis is a singer, producer, director, and all-around artist. She has directed and produced for the Labyrinth Masquerade Ball, and Golden Stag events, written and directed for the Astra Dance Theater, and been a long time co-collaborator at Sypher Arts Studio.

    The Cambria Sessions is threaded with a wildly fishtailing story of two girls moving to Hollywood to make their dreams come true. Detailing the narrative are the intertwined voices of Tash and Sasha. The story is rife with surrealism and mythology, with subtle allusions to Joseph Campbell. In the end, the protagonists flee Hollywood for the safe haven of Cambria, the beautiful wine country expanse in Northern California.

    The album’s lead off single is the slinky “Superman.” The dizzying track swings mightily with whimsically zigzagging melodic passages and a seductive urgency oozing from voices of Tash and Sasha. The song intimates a love triangle. One of the girls is far too preoccupied with a male lover whose bravado has gotten him into a dicey situation. “It’s about how in love, we either put someone else on a pedestal, or we struggle with being put on a pedestal,” Tash explains. “I don’t need a superman—I just want to love as a human being.” The video for “Superman” is a collaboration with fashion photographer turned director Jean Renard It’s a feast for the senses boasting a cross section of LA’s finest dancers, eye-popping visual technology, and steamy film noir imaging.

    Alice Underground_1

    Other standouts on the Cambria Sessions include a nostalgic and impressionistic version of the jazz standard “Fly Me To The Moon” and, the sultry and dark, “LA Is Burning.” Traditionally, the evergreen “Fly Me To The Moon” is a swinging track that soars with optimism. Alice Underground’s rendition is reflective and romantic, evoking the moment right before dreams slip away. Gordon says: “We went for that ‘hero with her hair flying in the wind’ feel. It’s right before the girls escape for Cambria. It’s very Thelma & Louise.” The city smolders, and the torch ballad “LA Is Burning” wafts in from the rubble. “There is a lot of pain in that one,” Scott shares. Tasha adds: “It evokes that sentiment of feeling alone in a faraway place, engulfed by loneliness.”

    The odyssey to Alice Underground began in the goth/industrial/metal scene. Outside of Alice Underground, Tash, Scott, and Gordon play with the group Mankind Is Obsolete. While on tour with the group Android Lust, they befriended the New York-based band’s drummer, Steve. When Steve relocated to Los Angeles, he joined the trio. Sasha came into the fold when Tash heard her softly singing during an arts and crafts project. The two instantly had a deep connection. “We are both from Texas, we are preacher’s kids, our names rhyme, and we’re both Scorpios,” Sasha explains. “We were meant to be soul sisters.”

    Alice Underground also has an extended family of thinkers, artists, and dancers. Shawn Strider, the creative director of the Labyrinth Masquerade Ball and producer of the Golden Stag events, helped forge the concept of Alice Underground and continues to contribute lyrics and story ideas. Others in the close circle include saxophonist Joe Berry (M83, Taylor Swift, Save Ferris), cellist Eru Matsumoto (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Demi Lovato), and hotshot Nashville guitarist Jordan Roepke (Restless Road).

    Every myth has a valuable story within the narrative, and in exploring the fantastical realm of Alice Underground, the band members have been artistically and personally transformed. “There have been so many amazing moments with this band that truly feels like family,” Tash marvels. “It’s changed my life—these people brought music back in my life,” Sasha confides. Gordon adds: “I love what we have done. We’ve created something indefinable.” Steve concludes: “We got thrown into the fire with these jazz shows, and I’m so proud we found a voice and means of artistic expression within a genre many of us didn’t know before. “

    I will follow up on this with an interview of the band which will yield some more information, but this is for another day.

  • Review: American Pickers, Season 1 and Raffle!

    After first hearing of American Pickers and doing a little piece about it on the blog, I got my hands on the first season. It is a real shame I can only watch this series on DVD since it is otherwise not available for me. I cannot watch it online due to geographical limitations and TV is out of the question for lack of one.

    Anyway, I am now the happy owner of the first season of American Pickers. As I already pointed out when I first talked about Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, I want their job. Now, after watching the first season, I want it even more.

    The entire season is so much fun to watch. It is not only the fact that Mike, Frank and Danielle are such cool people and what they are doing for a living is a Steampunk’s dream, it goes far deeper.

    Behind every piece they find, there is a story, like this rusty bicycle:

    It is also the people they meet. They get to meet real people. People who do not have to make sure they show a certain facette to the camera and hide the rest of their personality. The people Frank and Mike visit are salt of the earth. They are the people in your neighbourhood, everybody knows people like them. This makes American Pickers a show that is so close to you and me. If we would be living in Mike and Franks area, they could come round our houses one day, it is that real. And it makes it really easy to get into and love this series.

    Another thing I really love about American Pickers is the Joy of the Hunt. The protagonists really manage to bring their enthusiasm for their job and their love for hunting down unique pieces in junkyards across and infect the viewer with it. I am sure a lot of people who have watched American Pickers agree with me here. The excellent ratings have to come from somewhere.

    On a number of occasions I went „Wow!“ and „Awesome!“ or „How great is that!“ when the two found a particular great piece or place (like the WW2 Katana or the complete vintage car park). And, the show provides info-snippets to the most interesting pieces found in each episode. Some quite fascinating facts and factlettes were among these. Excellent!

    I cannot even say which of the episodes I like best. Every single one is obviously unique and features great people with great collections and great discoveries.

    I felt a bit bad for Danielle, though, when the guys were mad at her after a bad day and bad leads. Well, it all worked out again in the end.

    And speaking of Danielle:

    Danielle from American Pickers

    She has quite a history and backstory that will be featured in a seperate article on a later date. A very Steampunk/Dieselpunk backstory in deed.

    So, Amercian Pickers, Season 1 is an excellent piece of educating entertainment, a feast for the eyes and a continues every-day adventure story.

    This is only the second time I award the full reinforced squadron, but American Pickers gets ten out of ten Zeppelins!

    I leave you with a loose quote by Frank:

    Invisible pumps are really hard to find!

    And now for the Raffle

    I have one more copy of American Pickers, Season 1 to give away. If you want it to be yours, drop me a line, either on this blog as a comment or email me. I will draw the lucky winner out of all the people who have contacted me until January 31st.

  • Vintage Cars for Kids

    This was truely a lucky find. I was just browsing the ætherweb in general and came across a blog which featured an article about something wonderful:

    A Vintage Car for Kids!

    Baghera Vintage Car

    The cap and goggles are actual equipment provided by the company. Yes, once again it is all about add-on selling. It is really sad, some of the credit I give the company, Baghera of France, is already burned again by the fact that all the little add-ons have to be purchased seperately. They coul at least have included a horn. Oh well. Money makes the world go around…

    In any case, the product range is imprssive, I am especially delighted by the planes they offer, such as this one:

    Baghera Plane

    Well, let us see if my offspring shows any interest in those cars and planes. If a plane it will be, it is getting a red paint-job for obvious reasons.

    And speaking of red paint-jobs, there is also a vintage fire truck available:

    Baghera Fire Truck

    It will be at least another eighteen months until these toys are of any use in my home, but who knows… But then again, I should not try and force my tastes upon my child. I know enough parents who tried with varying degrees of success and force.

    In any case, mabe I have given some of you an idea for a Yuletide/Yithmas present.

    Now I shall go, grab my hunting-rifle and go out there in the snow. You never know, maybe I will actually encounter a wooly rhino…

    Wooly Rhinoceros by Mauricio Anton

  • Recommended Blog: Eclectic Ephemera

    Once more I want to direct you, my dear readers, towards another fellow blogger whose work I find of particular interest. This time it is Eclectic Ephemera, as the name suggests, it is a rather eclectic collection of ephemeral things.

    But: There is a definite trend apparent in all the things on Eclectic Ephemera and that is Vintage. As he states in his profile, Bruce Partington-Plans is particularly fascinated by the 1920’s and 1930’s which reflects in his blog. You find a lot about steam trains, silent movies, vintage cars, famous actors of the periods and related topics there.

    He is also quick to introduce his readers to occasions, when elements of the aforementioned times bleed into modern culture. One example I found of special interest is his post about a motoring-themed hotel in Stuttgart, Germany, with a Zeppelin-suite (yes!)

    Plus: Mr. Partington-Plans is a fellow zeppelin aficionado anyway!

    Another delightful one is the article about Britain’s oldest stunt pilot, who flew during World War 2 and now pilots a SE5A First World War fighter biplane:

    SE5A First World War fighter biplane

    So I hope I have tingled your curiosity, now please pay Eclectic Ephemera a visit.